God of More
I'd had my fill of Spartan super violence. Murdering Olympians had lost its charm and Kratos' unrelenting anger had worn thin. God of War 3 was decent, but felt far too familiar, an upgrade in visuals alone. I had lost all interest in the series and paid little attention to the announcements and previews for the latest instalment, Ascension. I took a moment to roll my eyes at the multiplayer and to wonder if prequel Kratos would have hair, before forgetting all about it.
I didn't discover God of War until 2007. In a year of PSP and Wii Sports, it felt good to eviscerate someone on the big screen, and the pair left a lasting impression. I've always been interested in ancient history and mythology, an interest I was keen to mix with my favourite past time (video games, not evisceration). The first two God of Wars did just that. I loved them both, and they served as a fitting farewell for my old, faithful PlayStation 2.
God of War: Chains of Olympus is one of my favourite PSP games, though by the time its successor, Ghost of Sparta, arrived I'd already had my fill. God of War 3 was my fourth God of War in the space of two and half years, the HD collections were surplus to requirements and Dante's Inferno, a shameless copycat, confirmed that I’d had enough of GoW's brand of ultra-violent, third person hack-and-slash, with nipples. While I'd greatly enjoyed the series, I was happy to move on. God of War "Don't Call me Four" Ascension was an afterthought in my Potential Highlights of 2013 and I had long forgotten that it was due this month, that is until reviews started appearing earlier this week. Watching a couple of video reviews - I don't do reading – I came to the conclusion that I’m ready to embrace the wan Spartan once again, or at the very least play his new game.
It would appear that our time apart has done the trick. The multiplayer looks bollocks, but the combos, chains, familiar enemy types and narrative are desirable once more, after three years of abstinence. There's no danger of me pre-ordering, but I absolutely intend on playing it at some point in the coming months. Who would have ever thought that taking a breather from a well-worn series might be of benefit in the long run? Certainly not Ubisoft.
As much as I enjoyed the naval combat in Assassin’s Creed 3, I cannot muster any enthusiasm for AC Blackbeard’s Ghost. I’m tired of yearly instalments and sick of the increasing shoddiness of a series that Ubisoft can’t stop picking at. AC Black Flag boasts an interesting setting, maintains a link to the excellent Haytham Kenway, will be available on next gen machines and is all “raise the starboard” and “fire the anchor”, which is great. It’s about assassin pirates for fuck sake, yet I’m indifferent at best. If God of War and I are to be reunited, then Assassin’s Creed must inherit the title of franchise most in need of rest, closely followed by Call of Duty, after the bitter disappointment that was Black Ops 2.
It must be difficult, keeping your franchise in the spotlight while avoiding saturation. Rockstar does a great job of keeping us talking, while taking its sweet time between releases. Grand Theft Auto, for example, remains one of the best loved and well known series in modern gaming, despite not having had a full, home console release for five years. Konami has maintained a steady supply of Metal Gear Solids without sacrificing quality or lessening the importance of a new MGS release. Bioware and EA have avoided Mass Effect overload, releasing three blockbuster games in four and a half years but resisting the urge to churn out lesser spin offs. But then that’s typical EA for you, ever mindful of quality and desperate to put the consumer first.
It remains to be seen whether Ascension will prove a triumphant return for Kratos or if it will merely serve to remind why I tired of the series in the first place. Either way, I’m happy to have rediscovered an enthusiasm for a franchise I once adored. Perhaps there’s hope for Assassin’s Creed yet.